Verruca, Corns & Calluses


A verruca is a small flat wart on the sole of the foot. Corns and calluses occur when there is excess or thickening of the skin, usually on the soles of the feet. Corns form on non-weight bearing areas and Calluses usually form under the foot.

On this page:

  • Verruca
  • Calluses & Corns


A verruca is also known as a plantar wart and appears on the sole of the foot. They are the same as warts on any other body part and are caused by a virus, known as human papillomavirus (HPV). They vary in size and are not normally something to worry about, although care should be taken as they can be contagious.

A verruca is a small flat wart on the sole of the foot. It is not usually painful, although may be tender when pressed, especially from the sides. Some may be particularly painful on weight-bearing and feel like a small stone under the foot. Verrucas vary in size from a 1mm to over a centimeter and may vary in shape too. The surface of the verruca is usually covered with small black dots which are blood vessels and it is usually surrounded by hard skin.

A Verruca is differentiated from a Corn in that when you press a Verruca in from the sides they will be painful, whereas Corns are more painful with direct pressure applied into them. Warts and verrucas are very common and nothing to worry about, although should be treated as they are mildly contagious. They are passed on via direct skin to skin contact or from the floors of swimming pools and showers. They can be passed to other areas of the body particularly the fingers. There is a higher risk of passing a verruca on if the skin is damaged or wet.

To avoid passing it on make sure it is covered when swimming by a waterproof plaster or verruca sock. Wearing flip flops when walking barefoot and in the shower is advised and never share towels.

There is no real need to treat a verruca unless it is causing problems or is uncomfortable to walk on. Most will go away on their own within 2 years, although treatments may clear it sooner. These include salicylic acid creams which should be applied daily for several weeks. Salicylic acid plasters are available which cover the area.

Freezing treatments can be performed by a doctor or nurse to freeze burn the verruca away although several treatments may be required. Covering the area with strong adhesive tape such as duct tape has also been known as a treatment method.

Corns & Calluses

Corns and calluses occur when there is excess or thickening of the skin, usually on the soles of the feet. Calluses form on weight bearing parts of the body and corns on non-weight bearing areas. Applying gels to reduce friction and applying plasters can help ease any pain and protect the area.

Calluses usually develop on weight-bearing parts of the body, such as the sole of the foot, especially the ball and heel. They are rough, thickened patches of skin which are rarely painful. Poor foot biomechanics can cause additional pressure on certain areas of the foot. This pressure causes hypertrophy of the skin or excess skin growth.

Corns are smaller than calluses and develop on parts of the foot which are not weight bearing, for example, the tops or sides of the toes and occur due to friction. They can be tender when touched.

A podiatrist or chiropodist may remove the corns and hard skin with a scalpel making sure they do not cut into the healthy skin tissue. Orthotic inserts can help correct poor foot biomechanics by controlling the position of the foot during the gait cycle and preventing abnormal pressure on parts of the foot.

Vaseline or petroleum jelly applied to the skin can help reduce friction and pressure over the area. Corn and callus plasters are available to help protect the areas and prevent friction.

This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.